Main Readings: Isaiah 61.1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126 or Song of Mary (APBA P.9 or 425); 1 Thessalonians 5.12-28; John 1.6-8, 19-28
Supplementary Readings: Psalm 79; 1 Thessalonians 5.1-11; Isaiah 60.15-22; Psalm 18.1-6, 48-50; Luke 7.18-28
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…” (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18)
I once knew a priest who often quoted these words. Even when he was receiving palliative care and managing his grief and pain, he would never give up on joy, prayer and thanksgiving. Over his life he had cultivated a deep practice of prayerful communion with God overflowing in service.
With these words, Paul urges the persecuted Thessalonians to actively cultivate prayerful communion with God overflowing in action as they wait for Jesus’ return. Notice the clipped phrases to urge action – “rejoice…, pray…, give thanks…” They are to actively seek God’s intention for their ministry in difficult times, listen to God’s word and be shaped by deep joy, prayer and thanksgiving for mission.
Amid COVID-19, hardship and suffering have been met with action and hope. Cultivating a practice of deep joy, prayer and thanksgiving can build our capacity to face changes and challenges with hope and action. Cultivating this practice in difficult times releases us and widens our vision from just seeing problems to seeing the signs of hope and what more God is calling us to do. It doesn’t matter how small a thing we see – it can still be an opportunity to notice and offer thanksgiving overflowing to service.
This Advent, Paul’s urgent words remind us of the importance of actively waiting for Jesus by cultivating and deepening our practice of deep joy, prayer and thanksgiving, overflowing to mission. What obstacles are there to this practice and mission? What can you do to change these?Jump to next article